Guidelines Call after Doctor Lost out on Job over Abortion Beliefs; Pressure to Alter NHS Interview Procedure as Discrimination Row Grows

Article excerpt

Byline: HAMISH MACDONELL

MINISTERS are under pressure to radically alter NHS recruitment practices after a junior doctor was denied a hospital job because of his views on abortion.

On Saturday, the Scottish Daily Mail revealed that Dr Everett Julyan was refused a job as house officer with a health trust when he made it clear to interviewers he would have nothing to do with training which involved abortion.

The story has prompted an ethical and political row over the Executive's failure to make sure trusts do not discriminate against doctors with principled objections to abortion. Guidelines have been issued to all hospital trusts in England and Wales making it clear that candidates should not be asked their views on abortion when interviewed.

The NHS in England published a circular in 1994 which stated applicants should not be questioned about their attitude to abortion before they are appointed. But, because of a devolution loophole, this does not apply in Scotland.

Dr Julyan, a committed Christian, said two panel members at the North Glasgow Universities Hospitals Trust had told him privately after the interview that he had failed to get the job because of his views.

But the doctor was offered an identical job four days later by the South Glasgow Universities Hospitals Trust.

The North Glasgow trust subsequently admitted 'inappropriate questions' may have been asked and it is now reviewing their interview procedure. Health is a devolved issue but the Scottish Executive has not put together a definitive approach to the subject of abortion during interviews for hospital doctors.

An Executive spokesman said: 'We are not aware of the specifics of this particular case but we will look at anything that is brought to our attention. …